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Ever since the advent of Windows 8, Microsoft has decidedly received mixed reviews with respect to its new user interface for Windows. Formerly known as “Metro” and now tentatively called “Modern UI”, the new GUI is not ideally suited for professionals (and consumers) who are currently using the roughly 800,000+ Windows 7 legacy apps in existence today. And here’s the simple reason; Windows legacy apps do not run in the new Windows 8 graphical user interface! Instead, when a user launches a Windows legacy app on Windows 8, the user interface automatically switches to desktop mode or the older Windows 7 legacy user interface.

Windows 8 by design is bimodal, meaning that it can run in either of two modes (actually three if you count the DOS or command prompt). However, this can lead to instant confusion when new users attempt to navigate the entire Windows operating system. That’s not to say the new Windows Metro interface is bad. In fact, it’s elegant in many ways and fairly easy to use on touch based devices, including Tablet PCs and Windows Phones. But that’s another story.

Fortunately, there are several remedies or fixes to the problem with the new bi-modal interface on Windows 8. The first is a software utility named RetroUI, a play on the words Metro and UI. This slick little utility allows you to completely by-pass the Metro UI in favor of the legacy UI, either partially or completely. It also brings back the Windows Start button, which is essentially gone in the new Metro UI. RetroUI is also designed for enterprise roll-outs as well, not just for consumers. It’s $9.99 (USD) for a three license pack.

Alternatively, there is Start8, another Windows 8 specific utility that helps bring back the god forsaken Start button that is (and will be) missed by so many consumers and professionals alike. Similar to RetroUI, Start8 also allows you to by-pass the Metro UI completely and start working immediately from the desktop. It too, like RetroUI, offers enterprise support. The price for Start8 is $4.99 per desktop license.

Next up is yet another Windows UI utility known as Classic Shell. It is “free” of charge and is more of a traditional Windows app, but offers support for suppressing the new Metro UI and working in a more Windows 7 friendly environment on your desktop or laptop. The utility has been around for years now and was the first to try to foil the use or adoption of the Windows Vista interface, the predecessor to Windows 7. That obviously didn’t work, so now they are focusing on Windows 8. The project does solicit donations for helping maintain the product and is an open source initiative.

Finally, the beauty of all three of the Windows utilities is that they enable you to migrate or upgrade to Windows immediately without having to retrain users, including yourself, on Windows 8. In addition, you get the many added benefits of Windows 8 that are not available in Windows 7. Examples include faster boot times, better overall system performance, better security and access to some great new Windows 8 specific apps on the horizon.  

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